2016 10 02pm Westminster Confession Ch. 3 Jude 24-25 God is Able!

We consider the wonderful benefits of worshiping a God who is sovereign in life and salvation.

MESV Westminster Confession of Faith – Chapter 3 – God’s Eternal Decree
1. God, from all eternity, did—by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will—freely and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass. Yet he ordered all things in such a way that he is not the author of sin (1 John 1:5 God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. James 1:13-14 [God] himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”), nor does he force his creatures to act against their wills; neither is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established (Proverbs 16:33 We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall).
2. Although God knows whatever may or can come to pass under all conceivable conditions, yet he has not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future or as that which would come to pass under such conditions.
3. By God’s decree, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined to everlasting life, and others are foreordained to everlasting death (Romans 9/Eph 1:3-5).
4. These angels and men, thus predestined and foreordained, are individually and unchangeably designated, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or decreased.
5. Those people who are predestined to life, God—before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and unchangeable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will—has chosen in Christ to everlasting glory. He chose them out of his free grace and love alone, not because he foresaw faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of these, or anything else in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him to do this; and all to the praise of his glorious grace (Doctrine of Unconditional Election).
6. As God has appointed the elect to glory, so he has—by the eternal and most free purpose of his will—foreordained all THE MEANS to that end (How God brings about the salvation of the elect). Therefore, his chosen ones, all of them being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ and are effectually called to faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season. They are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. No others are redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, except the elect only.
7. The rest of mankind God was pleased—according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extends or withholds mercy as he pleases—for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice (Romans 9:18 “So then [God] has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” – Romans 9:22 – “…vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.”).
8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, so that men, taking heed to the will of God revealed in his Word and yielding obedience to it, may—from the certainty of their effectual calling—be assured of their eternal election. Thus, this doctrine shall provide reason for praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and for humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all who sincerely obey the gospel.
So the first two articles of this chapter reveal the sovereignty of God in that He has decreed all things that come to pass. The rest of the chapter explains the doctrine of predestination – that God chooses some to eternal life and others He predestines to everlasting death. So today we consider THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN LIFE AND SALVATION. So let’s read all of Jude, with our text being vv24-25.

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
This will sound a little bit like déjà vu if you were here this morning but whatever way you carve it up there are problems and issues and troubles all around us.
 In terms of the WORLD:
o I didn’t see it myself, but someone mentioned to me during the week that they had seen a 60 minutes or 20/20 documentary on the number of submarines floating about in the world’s oceans that are full of nuclear missiles that could be launched, perhaps even by mistake, and begin a catastrophic war.
o And who knows where the rise of radical, militant Islam will end up?
 And in terms of the CHURCH:
o Christian denominations and churches seem to be falling over themselves in their hurry to tell the world that God is perfectly happy with homosexuality and with the idea that though you are born male or female you can identify as the other sex and have the surgery that goes with it.
o I know of a woman in another of our congregations who has left her husband without any biblical justification to do so and she is up the front of her new church as part of the ‘worship team.’
o And on a person note, one of my seminary professors was recently deposed as a minister and is no longer a professor because of gross immorality. And I am sure you have read about or know other professing Christians who have fallen into serious sin or turned their back on the Lord all together.
 And in terms of EVANGELISM: Just a couple of years ago, Rico Tice, the author of the evangelism tool, “Christianity Explored,” visited Christchurch and spoke with some of us about people being increasingly ignorant about and hostile towards Christianity. In 2008, Tim Keller wrote a book defending Christianity called “The Reason for God.” We have it in our church library. Well, just last week I saw that he has come out with a new book which he is calling a prequel to “The Reason for God.” Keller said, Things have changed, so drastically, in just 8 years, in terms of people’s beliefs and their attitude toward Christianity, that people now need to read this first book before they are ready for “The Reason for God.” (Not a marketing ploy ) There is increased hostility to Christianity.

So it is becoming increasingly dangerous just to live in this world, let alone to live for Christ. We are surrounded by seductive immorality that is constantly inviting us into sin, and false teaching that is constantly trying to get us to abandon our old-fashioned and unenlightened beliefs.
It is not surprising then that in conversations I have been a part of that have included mention of GLORIAVALE, I have heard a number of people speak of it with some fondness, not in terms of its false teachings, of course, but in the appeal of being able to withdraw from the toxic world we live in. But you and I know well, don’t we, that there is no place on earth where we can we can go to withdraw from sin, because we are always with other sinners and our own sinful hearts. And the Lord Jesus called us to let our lights shine before men; and we are to “live such good lives among the pagans,” says the Apostle Peter, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify God…”

So what all this means is that we actually find ourselves in very much THE SAME SITUATION as the people to whom Jude wrote. They lived in a society saturated with immorality and they had false teachers teaching them that Christian liberty meant you were free to commit immorality, as we see in v4.
So what did the Spirit of the Lord have to offer these believers? What encouragement and exhortation did Jude have for them? What would help them stand firm and persevere with bold confidence and a certain hope?
And because the words before us are the living words of the Spirit of Christ to the church of all ages, what here will help you and me to stand firm and persevere with bold confidence and a certain hope?
 Well, there are WARNINGS and some very strong words about those who taught false doctrine. But that is not our focus today.
 And if you take a look at vv20-21, there is pretty plain INSTRUCTION about what we call the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life that every believer must devote himself or herself to: “But YOU, beloved, building YOURSELVES up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep YOURSELVES in the love of God.” But that is not our focus today.
 Our focus is vv24-25. And in vv24-25 we have thrilling DOXOLOGY! And boys and girls, doxology simply means glory-word. These are words that glorify and honour and worship and adore and exalt and praise God. And this wonderful doxology offers great encouragement and exhortation to aid believers surrounded by problems to stand firm and persevere in faith with bold confidence and certain hope.

So with the remainder of our time, congregation, I will simply make a few comments about these verses and what they reveal about God’s Eternal Decree before we end with FOUR GREAT BENEFITS OF KNOWING THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN LIFE AND SALVATION.

Brothers and Sisters, young people, and boys and girls, to believers who are surrounded by problems and troubles and hardships and temptations and unbelief, the Spirit of the Lord says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

I. So notice, first of all, that God “is able.” “Now unto Him who is able.” God is able! You see, a God who is not sovereign, who has not decreed all things that come to pass, who must simply sit back and wait for man to choose to believe, is a God who is not able. But the Holy Spirit, through Jude, speaks about and reveals and reminds believers that God is able. And this means that God must be in total control of every aspect of life and salvation.
A. R. C. Sproul illustrates this great truth by talking about what he calls the MAVERICK MOLECULE. Maverick means rebellious and free and unruly. You see, if there is one maverick molecule in the whole of creation, that is outside the rule and authority of God, then God is not sovereign; God is not able. Sproul speaks about Bill Vukovich, the king of Nascar racing in the US in the 1940s-50s. In 1952 while leading the Indianapolis 500, Vukovich’s car lost its steering and crashed into the wall – Vukovich was fine. And when they got the car back to the garage to see what went wrong, it turned out that a tiny, 10c cotter pin had worked its way loose; the tiniest part on the car led to a complete wreck. And then, in 1955, when Vukovich was again in the lead, a multicar crash sent his car sailing over the railing and this time he died. TV replays showed that one gust of wind caused the front car to swerve a little, into a car beside, which then veered into the wall and bounced back into other cars and the multicar crash – one gust of wind.
B. Well people of God, there are no maverick molecules in creation. Praise the Lord! Prov. 16:33 tells us that the Lord governs the role of the dice. Daniel 2:21 tells us that the Lord “sets up kings and deposes them.” And Jesus said, in Matthew 10:30-31, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid.” God is sovereignly in control of all things. God is able!

A. For notice, secondly, the link between v24 and v21. I drew your attention earlier to v21 and the instruction there that believers keep themselves in the love of God. And if all we had was v21; if our salvation ultimately depended on our ability and our wisdom and our strength, well then we would have genuine reason for nervousness and doubt and hopelessness. But v24 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory.” The reason Jude could launch into this doxology was not his confidence in the ability of these believers to keep themselves but the promise of God to keep or guard or preserve believers in faith.
1. In John 6:39, Jesus says, “This is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
2. So, believers must keep themselves in the love of God, and believers must “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling,” as we read in Phil. 2:12, but we have no grounds for confidence in ourselves. Our confidence rests solely in the ability of God and the promise of the Lord Jesus! That the Apostle Paul spoke of this in connection with the Philippian believers when he said, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
B. Believer, the Christian life is a blessed life but it is also a hard life; a tough life. Sin and guilt often create doubt in our minds. Am I really a child of God? How can God love me? Surely I am lost. Well, “[God] is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory.”
C. And this grand truth is seen also in the first name or title of God that Jude uses in v25: “Saviour.” Have you ever thought about the significance of the name/title Saviour? You see, if 0.0001% of your salvation depended on you, you would be your own Saviour. But because God chooses some to salvation and because God brings them to salvation through faith in Christ and because God preserves them in that salvation by causing them to persevere, God is Saviour!

III. God is able. God is sovereign. God is our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord. So let’s think now about the FOUR GREAT BENEFITS OF KNOWING THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN LIFE AND SALVATION.

1. And the first benefit is ADORATION – Knowing that God is sovereignly in control of all things deepens our adoration.
A. Time and time again, as you read the OT, you encounter the people of God in desperate circumstances. What do they do, every time? They remember God’s sovereign and powerful deliverance of His people in the past – Patriarchs, Exodus, Red Sea, Jericho, etc.
B. When David, as a young man, stood before the giant, GOLIATH, why was he confident? Because God had sovereignly delivered him in the past from lions and bears.
C. And all of this feeds into David’s magnificent prayer of adoration from 1 CHRON. 29, which re read earlier. David had a city to build and a people to rule over and enemy nations in every direction. And if David had to rely on himself and his abilities, he had no hope. But David knew and worshipped the God who is able! So David blessed the Lord, saying, “Yours … is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours … you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”
D. A.W. PINK said, “A ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is check-mated, possesses no title to Deity, and far from being an object fit for worship, merits nought but contempt.” On the other hand, a God who created the universe by speaking it into existence, and who sovereignly rules His universe is a God joyfully to be sought after, obeyed, and worshipped!
E. Very soon we are going to sing Jude 24-25. And we have every reason to loudly adore our God with those words, because He is able!

2. But the second benefit of knowing that God is sovereign in life and salvation is COMFORT.
A. Temptation and trial and sorrow and death are common to every human being. The question is: How do we meet them? If there is no god or if there is a god but he is not in control, then they are meaningless and life is just a random tragedy. But if there is a God who is sovereignly in control of all things, which there is, then even if we do not understand His reasons for permitting this or that circumstance to come into our lives or the lives of loved ones, we can take great comfort that “for those who love God,” as Romans 8:28 tells us, “all things work together for good.” And so, we have every reason, as we read in James 1, to “Count it all joy … when [we] meet trials of various kinds, for [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness.” So because God is able, we have comfort in the midst of trials, temptations, and sorrows.

3. The third benefit of knowing that God is sovereign in life and salvation is ENCOURAGEMENT FOR EVANGELISM.
A. The message of the gospel, as the Bible itself says, is foolishness! No human being, in and of himself and apart from the Holy Spirit’s work, will find the gospel logical and attractive. So if God is not able, evangelism is a hopeless endeavour. But God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.” God says, I am the potter and you are the clay. And to make known my power and the riches of my glory, I will take some who are ugly, misshapen clay pots and make them beautiful vessels of mercy! And I will do it as you, my people, speak the gospel of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus. So because God is able, we have encouragement for evangelism.

4. And the fourth and final benefit of knowing a God who is sovereign in life and salvation, which we have already touched on, is SECURITY – our salvation is secure in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A. Within half and hour of this sermon, if you are honest with yourself, there will be at least one but probably more thoughts you think or a words you speak or looks you give or things you do or do not do, which should disqualify you from heaven. So if your salvation depended on you, you would truly be without hope.
B. But where is Jude’s confidence? In Him who is able to present Him blameless. Where is the Apostle Paul’s confidence in 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” And this confidence; this assurance; this security is because God is ABLE; because God is sovereignly in control of all things, including your salvation! And there is no better security than the ability and the promise of a sovereign God!

So four benefits of knowing that God is sovereign in life and salvation. But I want to end with a brief word to those of you sitting there today who would not yet call yourselves a Christian. And I do this in case you have the mistaken impression from this sermon that because God is sovereign there is nothing you can do to become a Christian. Well, it is true that God is sovereign. But He says, If you repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you shall be saved. You must choose to repent and believe. And if you do, then you join those of us who have already chosen to repent and believe. And we have every reason to adore God, we have real comfort in distress, we have encouragement to tell others about the Lord Jesus, and we have security that our God is able to present us blameless before the presence of His glory. All glory be to God. Amen.